The cabinet reshuffle was necessary for Narendra Modi. From the administrative point of view, vacancies needed to be filled and senior ministers relieved of additional portfolios and the party needed to shed some deadwood. PM Modi believes that former bureaucrats who have handled the ropes of governance for nearly 40 years of their lives can pull the government out of its present morass.That limited objective has been achieved, more or less.
The biggest win was for Nirmala Sitaraman. This is the second time India has a woman as its Defence Minister, but the first to occupy the post full-time, and people couldn’t be happier. Sitharaman is the first woman to hold the position since former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who held the portfolio as an additional charge. This is also historic as this will be the first time there are two women in the Cabinet Committee on Security.
Piyush Goyal was also elevated to the cabinet minister from his prior position of being the Minister of State for Power, New and Renewable Energy and Mines. He will be faced with resolution of some of the key problems which plague the Indian Railways like safety and increasing accidents, poor finances, and efficiency.
Promotion of Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and induction of former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam may help the saffron party in its minority outreach. Alphons, whose administrative capabilities had often come in for praise when he was a bureaucrat, is a Christian hailing from Kerala, a state where the BJP has been working hard to emerge as a potent force. Former Mumbai top cop Satyapal Singh has been seen as an obvious choice after Sanjeev Balyan, also a Jat leader, was asked to quit ahead of the Cabinet rejig.
The less of it is that nine cabinet ministers, seven ministers of state with independent charge and 11 ministers of state remain saddled with multiple ministries after the reshuffle. Rathore was earlier in the MoS in I&B Ministry. The 47-year old had an impressive CV as a sportsman, with a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics being his highest achievement. Meanwhile, Union Cabinet Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani would also now exercise additional charge of Information and Broadcasting.
What do you think about the rejig? Push to bureaucracy? Or road map set for 2019?